Does everyone in the office look forward to the company party you host each year? Do your friends drop all other plans to attend your New Year’s get-together? Playing host to a party can be a rewarding experience, but it can also be a risky one. If you plan to create a social gathering for friends, family or employees this season, don’t open the doors until you understand the risks you may be facing. Continue reading to find out more about social host liability and the ways you can protect yourself this season.
Drunk Driving and Alcohol-Related Incidents
As DUI arrest records show, more people drive drunk between Thanksgiving and New Years Day than any other time of the year. With many holiday parties serving alcohol and more people traveling the roads, this can lead to many accidents and fatalities. If you plan to serve alcohol at your holiday party this year, make sure you are aware of your liabilities as a host.
In some states, the social hosts can be held liable for civil costs related to an intoxicated guest. This includes people who consume alcohol at a party and drive themselves home instead of using a designated driver. If an accident occurs, anyone injured can sue the driver as well as the host who served the alcohol. Here in Arizona, this is true for party hosts who serve alcohol to minors. If an underage guest drinks at your holiday or private party, you could be sued for any losses he or she causes as a result of intoxication. To reduce your risk of alcohol-related incidents:
- Provide alternative transportation options to guests
- Do not serve alcohol to minors
- Stay sober so that you can determine the sobriety of your guests
- Offer non-alcoholic beverages and food
- Stop serving alcohol as the party progresses
- Limit the amount of alcohol a guest can consume
Injuries can occur anywhere – especially at parties where there are a lot of people. What would you do if a fight was to break out between your employees or family members, causing a third party guest to be injured during the altercation? How would you handle a situation in which one of your guests slipped on a puddle left by a glass that had been knocked over by another guest at your party? Even though neither of these scenarios was your fault directly, you could still be served with a liability lawsuit simply because the incident occurred on your property.
It is important to review your personal homeowners liability coverage, as well as your commercial liability insurance to determine what is and is not covered. Waiting to find out after you need coverage could cost you thousands in judgment costs and legal defense fees later. By being proactive now, you can fill in coverage gaps and host your next holiday party with less concern about your risks.
Harassment and Discrimination
If you are an employer, you probably already know that your employees can sue you for discrimination or sexual harassment. But did you know that they can also sue you if another employee sexually harasses them or makes discriminatory remarks? These issues often come up during holiday celebrations, when employees feel less inhibited and more at ease. Just because they are not on the clock, however, it does not mean that you cannot still be held liable for their actions.
Employment practices liability insurance or EPLI, is coverage specifically designed to mitigate the risks of employee lawsuits. Many business owners rely on their general liability coverage for this type of protection only to find out that employee claims for issues like discrimination may not be covered. EPLI can help fill in the gaps left by these exclusions, potentially paying claims you might otherwise have to cover out of pocket.
So while the holiday season if one that we all enjoy, take precautions to be sure everyone at your get together has a safe and happy holiday season.